revious owners marred this magnificent site – a rock ledge 100 feet above the Potomac River – with a standard-issue ranch house. Our clients challenged us to better integrate the existing structure to the landscape, while retaining as much of the structure and fabric as possible rather than scrape and build anew. With a few decisive moves (reorganization of key social spaces; editing of the materials palette inside and out; taming the discordant roof forms into a series of waves that mimic the rapids below; and, most importantly, opening up interior views to the nearby woods to provide a counterpoint to those of the river gorge) we effected a transformation, worthy of the almost primeval site. One way the cliff is celebrated in the new structure: a large boulder surrounded by ferns supports the Doug Fir scrim wall that variously forms the Entry Porch, the Glazed Entry Hall, the Dining Room Bay overlooking the Appalachian woodland to the south, and the outermost layer of the Living Room wall – a grace note that signals you are entering a house is tailored to this unique place. Project scope also included a new outbuilding that houses a guest suite, a potting shed/workshop, and ample storage for bikes, kayaks, and a pick-up truck. It acts as a gatehouse in the ensemble, at the terminus of a long entry drive through the woods, and signals arrival to the nearby house.

Builder: Michael F. Taylor

Photography by Tom Arban


2018 Wood Design & Building Award